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Accentuate the positive : organizational and personal consequences of positive leadership - 2017


For this thesis, I examined the relationship between positive leadership and follower work behaviours through two studies. In the first, 313 employees participated in a study to examine how leaders’ positivity and positive leadership affect that of their followers. The purpose of the study was to explore if leaders’ positivity and enactment of positive leadership predicted follower positivity, which then predicted follower innovation, and burnout. Study Two built on the established positive leadership behaviour constructs by assessing an intervention aimed at enhancing positive leadership behaviours. The leadership intervention was assessed using a field experiment in which 80 leaders and their followers from a long-term health care organization were randomly assigned to leader positivity training, positive leadership training, a combined positivity and positive leadership training group or a control group. In this study the effects of training on followers’ perceptions of leaders’ positivity, follower positivity, burnout, and innovation were assessed. The two-study analysis supported the two positive leadership constructs and revealed that positive leadership affects follower burnout, while leader positivity affects follower positivity and innovation.

Project Link

The third phase explores a story telling activity by Rwandan Youth. The story will position the role of generation Z leaders as responsible leaders in the revitalization of Rwanda post the 1994 Genocide. The purpose of this phase is to understand the role of storytelling and ethical leadership on generation Z motivation towards responsible leadership and social change.

Phase 3 

The second phase builds on the established responsible leadership behaviour constructs by assessing four new interventions (physical, emotional, cognitive, and cultural) aimed at enhancing responsible leadership behaviours. The leadership intervention will be assessed using a field experiment in which 200 generation Z participants will be randomly assigned to a rotation through four training interventions, and a control group. In this study the effects of training on various participants behaviours will be assessed.

Phase 2

We examine Generation Z motivations towards social change and responsible leadership through three phases. In the first phase, 200 generation Z participants are separated into 5 groups to test a subliminal leadership image on the performance of the group working through an ethical group problem. The purpose of the exercise is to explore if the subliminal images effect the ethical behaviour and group outcomes.

Phase 1

Gen Z Responsible Leadership Summit - 2019

Generation Z and Millennial Perspectives on the Influence of COVID and Black Lives Matter Movement on Kindness - 2020

NextGen also known as Generation Z in the West are a cohort of people born between 1993 and 2011 (Statscan, 2011). Although not everyone born in a generational period shares the same values or experiences, they do share a common context that shapes their worldview. Worldview can be a useful predictor of social change. Therefore, generational research can provide valuable information for organizations that deal with these cohorts, as well as their attitudes towards responsible leadership (Kempster, Gregory, & Watton, 2016) and social change, to develop effective policies, programs, and practices to attract and retain Generation Z leaders.


There is a plethora of research on the Millennial generation born in 1982 to 1992[1].They are known to be an experienced based generation bringing the age of the shared economy with Airbnb and Uber. Their size is comparable to the Baby Boomers and their preferences and attitudes will influence many employment and consumerism practices Farrington, 2019). In comparison, Generation Zs are the first generation to grow up with the internet in their pocket (e.g. cell phones and smartphones) with constant access to the online world, creating a sense of immediacy for information and contact. Millennials grew up during prosperous economic times and generally viewed as optimistic, but have incurred significant school debt, where Gen Zs are known to be frugal and worried about debt and the economy. From a Worldview perspective, Gen Zs are attributed with a greater connection and interest to cultures around the world than Millennials were in their teens.

Study Population

Content from outside North America is prevalent thanks to social media. There is a trend in learning off the internet rather than in formal education institutions. In terms of political influence, Millennials supported marriage equality, and in 2008 young voters were a large part of the success in electing Barack Obama but are largely politically averse and don’t like the confrontational nature of politics. Similarly, the Gen Zs are more social justice minded, and involved in organizing and expressing their viewpoints on race relations, gender inequality, LGBTQ rights, and other identity issues. Almost 3% of teens in the US identify as genderqueer, identifying as neither male or female, and may use a pronoun like “they,” “xe,” or “hy.” (Premack, 2018). The noted differences in the generations provide some insights into the potential differing perspectives around kindness and expectations in the workplace. As Generation Z has just started to enter the workplace, the timing is beneficial to gather data on leadership development factors that influence organizational practices.

Data Collection Method

For comparison opportunities we will interview 60 individuals older than 19 from Gen Z (1997 to 2001) and Millennial (1981-1996) generational cohorts.  To gather a global perspective our research assistants are located in Canada, and Europe with global contacts to provide a diversified perspective on kindness.  Participants will be contacted via social media using a snowball sampling method. All research assistants have completed the TCPS Core Tutorial. Each research assistant has been chosen based on their previous research experience and contacts with the desired participants.


Researchers and Research Assistants

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